I want to give a big shout out and welcome home to a person I’ve only ever talked to on the telephone, Saleem Holbrook, who was released from prison today. Saleem was a juvenile sentenced to life in prison in Pennsylvania. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 ruled against mandatory life-without-parole for juvenile offenders. The Pennsylvania Legislature responded by imposing new sentencing rules for juveniles in first- and second-degree cases, but did not make them retroactive. The U.S. Supreme Court subsequently ruled its 2012 decision does apply retroactively. The court opinion said at least 17 states have outlawed life-without-parole for juvenile defendants. Pennsylvania has the most lifers who committed their crimes as juveniles.
I met Saleem through a close friend in Oakland where I learned about his story. After reading his articles I’ve gained a massive amount of respect and knowledge from the struggle he has faced in finding justice inside the US prison system. I won’t go on a diatribe against mass incarceration right now, this is a time for celebration. There are still people locked in the struggle and with Saleem’s release I know his work continues on breaking the bonds forged through the racist and capitalist policing practices of criminal justice system in the United States. You can find more about Saleem Holbrook here.